Even nowadays, you hear the phrase "shotgun wedding" and your mind gets invaded with images of a scruffy, scary father thrusting a firearm in the face of a bad-news boyfriend who thought he could just "hit it and quit it," as the kids probably don't say anymore. While there's nothing wrong with a loving parent dedicated to looking out for trouble (I know my own dad would take on the whole of the UFC if they did me wrong), we have to be careful about dispersing a disturbing notion that men should treat women well only out of fear of our fathers' wrath.
This is why writer J. Warren Welch isn't threatening anyone in his now-viral Facebook and Instagram post that summarizes the "rules" for dating any one of his five daughters. Welch and his wife, Natasha, are raising two 16-year-old daughters, Ashton and Jade, in addition to 13-year-old Darcy, 12-year-old Carmen, and 7-year-old Laney, from previous relationships, according to Today. Instead, he's leaving the law-laying to his girls.
"You'll have to ask them what their rules are," Welch writes. "I'm not raising my little girls to be the kind of women who need their daddy to act like a creepy possessive badass in order for them to be treated with respect."
Welch expanded on his parenting philosophy to Today Parents, saying, "I understand the urge to protect your daughters. But the kind of posturing by fathers of daughters I was specifically responding to had nothing to do with that 'protective instinct' and everything to do with asserting their dominance over women and reinforcing a belief that women need men to take care of them."
Even if dads are well-meaning, there is a worrisome likening of young women to "property" that Welch is actively calling attention to and trying to combat here. Instead of viewing his children more like heirlooms than humans, Welch says, "These girls are my heroes. I was a feminist long before I had daughters, but it wasn't until I was blessed with the task of raising young women that I realized why: These girls are amazing, and I can take no credit for that other than the fact that I at least knew that the best thing I could do for them is not try to 'mold' them."
Welch told Today the response to his post has been "overwhelmingly positive," and he hopes this indicates "a change in attitudes towards women in our culture."
We hope so too, and based on the above, we can't wait to hear the laudable father-of-the-bride speeches Welch will undoubtedly deliver in a decade or so.